The newest batch of young guns in Colorado's brewing industry wear pink boots
Westword: What is your brewing experience (in years and places)?
Bess Dougherty: Honestly, I am kind of a newb as far as brewing goes. I have been at Wynkoop for about six months now. Before Wynkoop, I had just been homebrewing for about four years.
What is your brewing education and regular education?
I completed the Concise Course in Brewing Technology from the Siebel Institute this past spring. I also have an associate of the arts from Front Range and am planning on heading back to school next fall for a degree in philosophy from UCD because I am a nerd. A nerd who likes to make beer and happens to be a girl.
What do you like about brewing?
I love the combination of science and creativity. There are certain rules that a brewers must follow, but when it comes to recipes and ingredient usage the sky is the limit. I also like the physicality of the work and the gratification of consuming the labors of your love.
What's the most challenging/rewarding parts of being a woman in the brewhouse?
For me, the biggest challenge is being taken seriously as a brewer. The people I work with are great; it is the consumers who I feel I have to justify myself to them. Part of my normal work week includes guiding tours on Saturdays. In this interaction, people constantly ask where the brewer who is supposed to give the tour is. When I tell them that I am the brewer, I get mixed reactions of excitement and disappointment.
The most rewarding part of being in the brew house would also have to be the consumer interaction. I have had many customers, male and female, tell me how inspiring it is seeing a lady push her way into a career in what is generally considered a boys' club. My favorite is getting e-mails from these folks weeks or even months later, telling me of the changes they have made in their lives to follow their dreams. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that you helped inspire someone to make a life change.
Favorite beer styles to drink and brew?
I love brewing anything new. I love our normal recipes, but getting the chance to make the small batch 'fun' stuff is really swell. Honestly, brew days are my favorite days no matter what I'm brewing.
As far as drinking goes, I love saisons, sours and super-thick and boozy stouts. Every so often I need a good IPA to get my hop fix.
What is your ultimate goal in the industry?
As of right now my goal in the industry is to make beers that can be someone's go-to beer. I also hope to focus on consumer education; I would love to educate people and reach out to people new to the craft-beer scene. I think that fostering a sense of community between producers and consumers of craft beer is key to continued growth.